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Sewing for children can be very rewarding. It takes very little fabric to make an item, it is fun to do and results in a unique garment not found in any store.
It is important to remember who you are sewing for. If your child is old enough, discuss the project with her/him. Involve the child as much a possible from selecting a pattern to deciding on what type of fabric to use. There is nothing worse then spending time and money on a item which will never be worn.
When shopping for fabric, don't compromise. Children are especially hard on their clothing. The fabric has to hold up to constant wash and wear. Why put time and money into a garment that only lasts through a few washes? There are many different fabrics on the market today so be sure and ask about the durability of the fabric including the possibility of shrinking and fading. Most of the time it is better to pay a little more for a fabric that will give you years of wear and still look great.
When you arrive home with your new fabric, pre-wash and dry it if necessary. This way, when you have a few moments you can start your project right away without waiting to wash and dry the fabric. The practice of only placing washed fabric in your sewing room helps to avoid confusion down the road as to what fabric is ready to go and what is not.
Choose a pattern which suits your sewing ability and can be reused. If I am sewing a size 4, I often look for a pattern that would offer a size 4-8 so I can use the pattern for future projects. It is a good idea to trace the pattern pieces rather than cutting them out, so that you can later reuse the pattern in a different size. If you find a pattern you like, stick with it. Years ago, I found a pant pattern for my son that fit him really well. I am still using that pattern for him. Because I am now very familiar with the pattern, I can add creative details like pockets or color-blocking to make each new version unique.
Be sure to make the clothing appropriate for the age of the child. For an infant install snaps in the legs to make diaper changes quick and easy. It doesn't matter how great an outfit looks, if you have to pull it over a crying baby's head six times a day, you will pick a different outfit next time. For young children, make the clothing simple so they can dress themselves without difficulty. Use elastic waist bands rather than fly zippers and buttons to reduce frustration during those mad dashes to the bathroom when potty-training.
Children grow so fast and they are hard on their clothes. Since you are putting a lot of time and creative energy into making their clothes, you will want to ensure that they last. To allow for maximum wear, try some of the following ideas:
Add length on pants and sleeves by making roll-up cuffs in a contrasting color.
Make dresses for girls longer with drop waists allowing them to last another season.
If cuffs on a long sleeve shirt wear out, shorten the sleeves and make it in to a T-shirt.
Lengthen straps on overalls and use overall clips to allow for adjustment.
Consider sewing the next size up.
Reinforce seams that will take the most abuse (e.g. crotch seams).
Reinforce knees with a double thickness of fabric.
Sew garments which are age-appropriate. A dress for a crawler is not a good daily wear item because it will only frustrate the child and make crawling difficult.
Make items reversible, thereby getting two items in one.
Look at the colors in the child's closest and buy fabrics that co-ordinate with what is already there. This makes outfit selection easier for your child (and you!).
If there is a hole cover it with a patch or an original pocket.
Install buttonhole elastic in waistbands to allow for growth.
Consider using unisex patterns and fabric to allow for greater flexibility at hand-me-down time.
Sewing for kids is great fun. No one will look cuter in your handiwork than your own children and nothing will give you more satisfaction than overhearing your child say "My mom made it."
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